1. Transformed microbes, algae and plant cells and tissues will be screened using automated fluorescence instruments.
2. These fall into two classes, photomultiplier-based fluorescent plate readers and laser scanning imaging devices with automated stages. For long term live imaging, the instruments will be integrated with robotic culture chambers.
3. These instruments can handle 1000's of samples per day, and an image storage and analysis system will be installed to handle these.
High throughput optical screening
Instruments like the Andor XDv and Leica SP8 HCS are high resolution imaging devices, which allow automated screening of samples. The XDv uses a spinning disc confocal optics for high speed acquisition, while the SP8 is a point scanning instrument that provides greater spectral and spatial resolution when needed. The devices can be installed with a robot stage to automatically collect and quantitatively analyse 1000's of samples per day. With suitably labelled samples, screens can be performed that would not have been feasible before.
Quantitative imaging in microplates
Often it is useful to obtain quantitative data from growing cell populations or biofilms. Fluorescence and luminescence microplate readers provide a rapid way of obtaining data. The instruments can be equipped with temperature control and a shaker for cell culture, and different sensors can be used to collect multiple parameters. This allows correction for cell growth, and calculation of normalised levels of gene expression, for example.
Automated image analysis
High-throughput screening provides a strong impetus to develop improved methods for automated image analysis. Often the analysis is dependent on the sample, and the software needs to be routinely customised, and parameters tweaked. Although there are a small number of commercial software packages that are capable, they are generally expensive. There are a number of open source software tools that provide a platform for automated analysis, and these provide an excellent opportunity for collaboration.